From Eclipse to Cape Cross

Do you know what Eclipse and Cape Cross have in common? Both have managed, as stallions, to produce not just The Derby winner but also the sire and the dam of The Derby winner.  

Cape Cross, photo Darley

Cape Cross, pensioned this March due to decreasing fertility rates, made it through his grandson Harzand's victory in The Derby into a very exclusive group of modern history stallions who have managed to achieve what the legendary Eclipse had achieved before them; also it was the third year in a row when the Epsom Derby winner was of his blood. From the 2014 winner Australia, whose dam, champion Ouija Board is Cape Cross’s daughter, to the last year’s winner Golden Horn, sired by Cape Cross, to this year’s winner Harzand, whose sire Sea The Stars, himself The Derby winner in 2009, is by Cape Cross. From this perspective Cape Cross, sired by the champion sprinter Green Desert and himself an excellent miler, appears to be one of the most successful sires in the history of The Derby.

The unique hat-trick – to sire the winner, to sire the sire of the winner and to be the damsire of the winner – has been achieved by more stallions in the 236-year-long history of The Derby. By twenty-four to be precise. As the table with their names and winning progeny, most of them were active at stud in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the last hundred years, only ten achieved this.

The first stallion who achieved this was none else than Eclipse, the sire of The Derby’s second edition’s winner Young Eclipse and two more winners in 1783 and 1784. Moreover, Eclipse was the sire of the dam who produced four more winners and two of his sons, Pot8O’s and Volunteer, produced The Derby winners as well, Pot-8-os even three of them. It is not necessary to emphasise that Eclipse’s line is the dominant paternal line in thoroughbred breeding and most of the stallions to be discussed on the following lines are related in a direct line to him.

Eclipse was the most important successor of the line established by one of the founders, Darley Arabian. In the Byrley Turk line, the same role was taken by Herod, whose son Highflyer, ten years younger than Eclipse, is the most successful stallion in The Derby history. He himself sired three winners, his daughters produced five winners and thanks to Sir Peter Teazle, the sire of 4 winners, and St George, he was the grandsire of five more winners of The Derby.

In the history of The Derby we can find a number of other interesting names, including the English champion sire in 1816 and 1818, Walton, who joined this exclusive club in 1813 even twice. How is this possible? Easily – the then winner Cedric, sired by Phatome (by Walton) was out of a dam by Walton.

Let us look in the not so distant past. The ten stallions who succeeded in all three “disciplines” in the last hundred years can serve as the textbook of the thoroughbred history. We will find here Pharos and his son Nearco, as well as Gainsborough with his son Hyperion. Also Hurry On, Precipitation or Spearmint belonged among the key individualities in the thoroughbred history.

Nearco, foaled in 1935, was for a long time the last stallion to have achieved this. This can, on the one hand, be seen as the proof of the stallion’s abilities, but on the other hand we should not forget the fact that the late 20th century was the time of huge expansion of thoroughbred breeding, the number of horses grew rapidly globally and it was the time when the blood was much more varied and the time of increasing influence of American-bred horses imported to England, whose sires did not have such a background in England and, therefore, had a much more difficult position compared to stallions a hundred years before.

The first stallion after Nearco who managed to become the sire, grandsire and damsire of The Derby winner was Blushing Groom, a stallion foaled in France but successful through his progeny foaled in the U.S., where he was based at the Gainesway Farm. The name of the last stallion before Cape Cross who went into history as the sire, grandsire and damsire of The Derby winner is not difficult to guess. The U.S. born and Ireland based Sadler’s Wells was called, in this column, the King of Epsom and it still holds true. Sadler’s Wells waited a long time for his first winner but this was none other than Galileo, later himself the sire of three winners. Even more successful was Montjeu, the sire of four winners of The Derby and since Sadler’s Wells was successful through Workforce as the damsire, his blood can be found in the pedigree of ten Derby winners.

This is the company in which Cape Cross entered with Harzand’s Saturday triumph. In my view this puts him in a much favourable light than that in which we saw him when he still was an active stallion. Perhaps it is a shame that we can see him in this light only now when he enjoys his deserved retirement.

Stallions, who sired the winner, sire of the winner and dam of the winner of Epsom Derby

Stallion Sire Grandsire Damsire
HIGHFLYER Noble Sir Harry Spread Eagle
(1774) Sir Peter Teazle Archduke Didelot
Skyscraper Williamsons Ditto Fidget Colt
Paris Champion
Pan Waxy Pope
ECLIPSE Young Eclipse Waxy Skyscraper
(1764) Saltram Spread Eagle John Bull
Serjeant Champion Archduke
Tyrant Paris
SADLER'S WELLS Galileo Motivator Workforce
(1981) High Chaparral Authorized
New Approach
Pour Moi
Ruler of the World
ST SIMON Persimmon Volodyovski Rock Sand
(1881) Diamond Jubilee Ard Patrick Signorinetta
St Amant
CYLLENE Cicero Pommern Captain Cuttle
(1895) Minoru Fifinella
Lemberg Humorist
TOUCHSTONE Cotherstone Teddington West Australian
(1831) Orlando Musjid Beadsman
Surplice Hermit
WAXY Waxy Pope Lap Dog Tiresias
(1790) Whalebone Spaniel Middleton
STOCKWELL Blair Athol Silvio Blue Gown
(1849) Lord Lyon Bend Or George Frederick
GAINSBOROUGH Hyperion Mid-Day Sun Cameronian
(1915) Owen Tudor Mahmoud
Straight Deal
GALOPIN Donovan Persimmon Ayrshire
(1872) Diamond Jubilee Flying Fox
PHAROS Cameronian Dante Mid-Day Sun
(1920) Nimbus Owen Tudor
GOHANNA Cardinal Beaufort Prince Leopold Moses
(1790) Election Gustavus
HURRY ON Captain Cuttle Airborne Ocean Swell
(1913) Coronach
Call Boy
NEARCO Dante Never Say Die Arctic Prince
(1935) Nimbus Tulyar
WALTON Phantom Cedric Cedric
(1799) Middleton
BAY MIDDLETON The Flying Dutchman Ellington Wild Dayrell
(1833) Andover
BLUSHING GROOM Nashwan Quest for Fame Kahyasi
(1974) Lammtarra
CAPE CROSS Sea The Stars Harzand Australia
(1994) Golden Horn
SORCERER Smolensko Soothsayer Prince Leopold
(1796) Cadland
SPRINGFIELD Sainfoin Rock Sand Galtee More
(1873) Ard Patrick
TRUMPATOR Didelot Smolensko Whalebone
(1872) Whisker
HYPERION (1930) Owen Tudor St Paddy Parthia
PRECIPITATION (1933) Airborne Santa Claus Larkspur
SPEARMINT (1903) Spion Kop Felstead Bois Roussel

Miloslav Vlček

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